Royce's Alaska License Plate FAQ
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Note: this FAQ is pretty stale (1996!) and is in the process of being updated.
Newer information is available in other areas of the site, most notably in the Plate Rules.
Lots of information about specific plates can be found in the Current Plates areas.

Corrections? Additions? Submit them!

General Information
Historical Information
Plate Manufacture and Distribution
Plate Display
Tags and Registration
Personalized Plates
Public Information

or, "Are you feeling okay?"

I got much of this information from a reference manual used by employees working the Information desk at the Anchorage DMV. They were very nice, though they thought that I was a little odd. You can judge for yourself.



When was the first license plate issued in Alaska? Who received it? What kind of vehicle was it?

Who decided on the current series configuration (three letters followed by three digits, each number run beginning with 100)? Why were 000-099 excluded?

When did plates begin to reflect vehicle type (passenger vs. utility, etc)

Why was the "A" series abandoned when we switched from the "bear" plate to the "flag" plate?

What major changes in series were put into effect, and when?



Who manufactures our license plates? At what locations?

What is the font used on Alaskan license plates?

According to Irwin-Hodson, there is no specific font derived from other sources for most license plates. Each die set is specific to each state, based on the specifications in each contract. In other words, the font currently used on the Alaskan plates is the "Alaskan" font from Irwin-Hodson's perspective.

What happens to error plates? Are they destroyed?

What statistics are available on the issuing of license plates?

Are license plate numbers distributed randomly throughout the state, or are certain number series given to different cities and areas? Is this handled by the computer system, or by the physical manufacturing and delivery process?
Plates are manufactured and then sent to a central warehouse. When a DMV station needs additional plates, a block of plates are sent to that DMV. The consequence of this is that there are sections of series that you are much less likely to see if you live in Anchorage because they were sent to Fairbanks, Juneau, etc.

Can large companies purchase blocks of plates for their fleet of vehicles? What rules govern these blocks? Is there a minimum block size?



There are many different prefixes and suffixes used for particular vehicle groups. Is there a complete definition somewhere (including historical data on previous series) ? If not, what information is missing from the attached list? What are the beginning and end dates of these runs (if applicable)?

Often, subseries plates (Veteran, etc.) are started with a meaningful prefix that runs out. What determines the point at which the series will fall back? (i.e., VET became VAA , etc.)

What is the oldest registered plate on the road in Alaska today?
The oldest plates I've actually seen on the road are BAA 873 and 2001 BA .

When will the current series end?

Because of the room for the bear/flag, it is clear that there is room on an Alaskan license plate for seven characters. Are there any plans to make an additional character slot available?
There are no plans to increase the number of available character slots at this time.

It is conceivable that someone could lose the license plate from their vehicle. If someone finds such a plate, what should be done with it?

If I am a disabled vet, when am I entitled to a disabled vet plate without extra charge?
Only on the first issue of the plate. Replacement plates carry a $10 charge.

If I am elected to the Alaskan State Legislature, how do I get one of those nifty-keen legislator's plates?
Write to:

State of Alaska
Legislative Affairs Agency
Director of Administrative Services
Pouch Y State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99814

or call




Is it legal to only display the license plate in the rear window of the vehicle?

Many outlying areas do not require plate display on vehicles. Is it legal to display an old plate (such as the "A" series bear plate) on such a vehicle?

Some states do not require front plate display. Is it allowed to display plates from other states or defunct plates on the front of the vehicle? I have seen someone from the Lower 48 with the old bear plates on their front bumper. As to the legality of this activity in Alaska, I have no idea.



How is a car owner's registration renewal month determined?
For new cars and cars with tags expired for twelve months or more, it is the month in which the registration application is submitted. For cars with tags expired less that twelve months, it is the same month that was previously used for that plate.

Can I request a particular month for registration renewal?
You can make such a request only if you have not previously requested a month. You must register at least a year in advance, and the remainer after one year is pro-rated.
For example, if it is now April and you want your tags to renew in August, you must pay for 15 months of registration when making the request.

Since only rear plates are now tagged (when did this change go into effect?) should old tags on the front plates be removed?

Tag colors are changed from year to year to make it easier to spot expired tags. What colors have been used in the past?



How long can a personalized plate remain expired before it cannot be renewed?
Twelve months.

Under what circumstances can license plates be included or excluded when the vehicle is sold or transferred?
At the discretion of the person who registered the vehicle (???)

Who were the artists who did the work for the new personalized plates? Artwork on older plates (i.e., the red bear)?

Can someone still choose to personalize a standard blue-and-yellow plate?

It seems that personalized plates must not be part of the current series. Can personalized plates use numbers from previous series? (For example, could I have a plate with the number AAA 100 ? Could I have one called AAA 001 ? what about CAA 001 ?)
Plates with three letters followed by three numbers are excluded from personal plate availability.

Are plate names researched to check for obscenity? Is there an official policy on this? What other types of plates are excluded from the available pool?
"Ethnic, racial or vulgar words, or words with indecent connotations, are not allowed."

What other rules govern the issuing of personalized plates?
There is an online Alaska State Law repository that has a lot of good information.

What non-alphanumeric characters (dash, period, etc.) are available for personalized plate use?
>The official policy I saw said that no special characters were allowed, though I am positive that I have seen a plate with a factory-stamped dash in it ("10-28").

Some states have non-standard characters (heart, smiley face) available for personalized plates. Are there any plans to make these kinds of characters available to vehicle owners in Alaska? Would this require an upgrade in manufacturing equipment? What would be the cost? Aren't there disadvantages to these plates for law enforcement officers?

Are the personalized series plates (VPH , etc) considered to be personalized plates? If not, what is the term for these types of plates?
These are not personalized plates, but rather simply plates of a different series, just like the handicapped series.

What cars are eligible for Custom Collector Plates?
"A vehicle whose body and frame were manufactured before 1949 or a replica of (same) ... and that has been modified for safe road use. In this paragraph, modified includes a material alteration of the drive train, suspension, brake system or dimensions of the body."



How much does it cost to research someone's public information using their license plate number?

What information can be obtained?

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Copyright ©1998-2018 Royce Williams.

Created: 07/27/1996
Last updated: 03/03/2005